Desert Isle Keeper
Stealing Mr. Right
Stealing Mr. Right is the first of the three part Penelope Blue series by Tamara Morgan, about a professional jewel thief and her husband, an FBI agent. It’s the first time I’ve read this author and she’s got my full attention now with a delightful cat and mouse game that has enough plot twists to keep the reader on their toes, while providing a swoonworthy romance.
He was the professional, but I had street smarts. He held the cards, but I called the game. Damn, but it was going to be fun seeing which of us would eventually come out on top.
This quote from partway through the story is an apt description of the relationship between Penelope Blue and Grant Emerson. Penelope is the daughter of a renowned jewel thief, the Blue Fox. When he died, Penelope became a street kid but with all the tricks of the trade under her belt. Those in the crime world on both sides of the law believe she must have access to the millions of dollars worth of jewels her father had hidden over the years, but she has no idea where his fortune is . When the chance to steal a precious diamond necklace that always eluded her father comes her way, she’s ready to do whatever it takes to be successful. If only her husband Grant hadn’t foiled her plans, once again! He’s at the scene of her almost-crime, and she is forced to abort the mission.
Penelope and her partners in crime are busy trying to think up another way to get a hold of the necklace when Grant brings it home for safekeeping. Is it a trap? Did he bring it home to force the issue of her life of crime out in the open, to see if she’d take the necklace and run? The game is afoot, but if one of them wins, they might both end up as losers in love.
This story has both a romantic comedy and a chick lit feel, and when I heard it was the first of three stories about the couple – who are already married – I was worried that this part would end in a cliffhanger. I’m happy to report that that is not the case. Stealing Mr. Right has a wholly satisfactory happy ending and is a complete story on its own. It’s told entirely from Penelope’s point of view and consists of equal parts flashback telling how Grant and Penelope met and got married and scenes in the present dealing with the aborted jewel heist and resulting fall-out. The segments are well identified and the writing voice used also makes it clear which is which – the parts that take place in the past are written in past tense and the parts in the present are written in present tense. It makes for an interesting reading experience.
Penelope is a resilient young woman. She had no choice but to adapt to life on the streets as an abandoned teenager, her mother having passed away in childbirth and her ‘trophy wife’ stepmother unwilling to play the part of mom. She was aided by Riker, another street rat and together they did what they needed to survive, eventually moving on to bigger and better heists. Stealing was a way for her to survive and she’s not apologetic about it at all. Now, she doesn’t do it for the money but for the thrill of the job. Riker is her best friend and they have a close relationship – though that has been strained by her marriage to Grant. He thinks Grant is using her to get at her father’s supposed fortune and that their marriage is a farce that will end with her getting hurt. Penelope finds herself torn between the man she’s in love with and the man who’s always had her back.
Riker and Penelope added two more to their thieving crew, Jordan and Oz, also street kids. They each have a specific role to play. Riker is the mastermind planner who chooses the jobs, negotiates with the backers and runs the show. Penelope is small in stature and can fit into spaces like air ducts and housemaids trolley carts. Ironically, she is claustrophobic yet still finds herself spending hours in small spaces, waiting to give the go ahead or do the job herself when the coast is clear. Jordan is the explosives expert, making whatever is needed to be used as a distraction (like firebombs in garbage cans) and Oz is the everyman, the one who wears disguises and blends into the background, casing joints, providing backup, basically playing whatever character is needed for the situation. These four are not a hard edged violent crew. No one gets killed or injured on their missions (though a guard or two may get knocked out ) and this is one of those scenarios where the crimes are always big ticket items – art heists, jewelry thefts, etc. from big corporations or wealthy people who can live with the loss.
Grant is an enigma. Penelope assumes that he knows exactly who she is when she first – and rather audaciously – approaches him on a surveillance job. In fact she introduces herself by her real name, so there’s no mystery. What she doesn’t expect is that he’ll ask her out! How much he knows about her isn’t clear, and nor is his motive is in wanting to date her. As the story progresses, Grant’s role becomes murky. In the sections of the story set in the past, he’s a handsome man in pursuit of a beautiful woman and they share some sensual scenes (which aren’t overly descriptive, though Grant is a good kisser!) as their relationship heats up. In the present, all bets are off and we don’t know if he’s a good guy or a bad guy, a man who loves his wife and is willing to do anything for her or if everything is leading up to a big takedown. Honestly, it makes for a very exciting and page-turning read because the reader has no idea what is going to happen right up until the very end. The plot twists are eyebrow raising, with the necklace at the center of the story. Stealing Mr. Right entertained me from beginning to end and I definitely plan to read more about this intriguing couple!